Mystery Ancestor: William FRY – Died 1813

I am completely stumped by this ancestor and I have very little information at all about his life despite the fact that I know he must have existed as he was my GGGG Grandfather. I don’t even know the name of his wife, my GGGG Grandmother. All I know so far is that his name was William FRY and that he must have had a wife, because they had at least one son together who was my GGG Grandfather Richard FRY (1780-1855).

Mystery Ancestor William FRY, who is believed to have died in 1813 and to have been the father of Richard FRY (1780-1855)

All I know is that a ‘Wllm’ FRY, was entered as the name of the father for Richard FRY (1780-1855) on the parish register for his son’s baptism in Bisley, Gloucestershire on 15th May 1780.


I am guessing that William FRY would have been aged between 20-40 at the time of his son’s birth (this is a complete guess). This would mean that the date of his own birth must have been between 1740-1760.

I tried to find out more about Richard FRY’s father, William FRY, including trying to find out his occupation by looking at the marriage registry for his son Richard FRY (1780-1855) and daughter-in-law Elizabeth FRY nee MAIDEN (1775-1875) who married on 18 FEB 1804 at St Michael’s, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England. However, I’ve been unable to find any documents or certificates, or even an entry on a registry, by doing desk research, beyond that of a very basic digital record of the date and location of the marriage which tells me it took place.

William FRY’s Death in 1813

The only other clue I have is in relation to William FRY’s death.

I believe that he died in 1813. I found a digital record for a burial (but I have not actually seen the original document) for a ‘Wm’ FRY who was buried in Clifton, Gloucestershire on 14 Oct 1813. I don’t know the exact location of where he was buried, so I have been unable to look at his grave or read any inscription, but I do believe that this is likely to have been the right William FRY because his son Richard FRY was living in Sion Row in Clifton, Gloucestershire with his wife at the time of this burial. Having said that, FRY was a common name in the Bristol and Clifton areas at that time, so I may be wrong about this.

Will and Testament for William FRY

I did try to search for a will and testament for a William FRY who died in Clifton in 1813 but all I could find was a three page will and testament for a William Fry who died in a different year, and his beneficiaries also do not seem to fit with my family research at all.

Other Clues and Thoughts

William FRY’s son, Richard FRY (1780-1855), would go on to become quite an influential figure in Weston-super-Mare where he joined with some associates to finance the build of the first hotel there, which he later ran for a time under the name of Fry’s Hotel. I would therefore be surprised if Richard FRY came from a very humble background as it seems he must have had a considerable fortune to be able to help finance the build of such a fancy hotel. This suggests to me that his father William FRY may have been somewhat wealthy and that he would have had the means to educate his son (and possible other children), but again, this is purely conjecture on my part.

So far, Richard FRY is as far back as I can go in this particular line of my family history so I would dearly love to be able to unlock a further generation and find out who his father William FRY was. I would also love to find out who Richard FRY’s mother was of course.

I’d be very grateful for any suggestions of what I could look for, or for any help with this mystery ancestor?

UPDATE

Since writing this post, Lorna Gibson, of the Weston-super-Mare and District Family History Society Facebook Community very kindly got in touch to say that she had done some research for me into the FRYs of Bisley in Gloucestershire. She told me the following:

I have searched the parish registers for Bisley from 1701 – 1800. There were 17 baptisms for FRY, 19 burials and 3 marriages but unfortunately no baptism or marriage for William FRY. This does not answer your problem but it does show a FRY family had connections with Bisley. The first record was a baptism of Hannah FRY 6 March 1702 and the last, a burial of Mary FRY aged 74 23 January 1794. The baptism you already have for Richard was the last recorded during this time. There is a potential link. A Nathaniel FRY married Mary PIERCE 13 September 1752. They had a children Nathaniel 1755, Bartholomew 1759 and daughter Hannah 1761. A Nathaniel FRY died in 1760. Nathaniel jnr., no wife named, had a daughter Hannah and a son, also Nathaniel 1778. This 3rd Nathaniel died aged 1 1/2 in 1780, a few months after Richard FRY was baptised. As they were contemporaries they may well have been cousins.

Further Update

I was today very excited to receive a message from a Family History Society member who says that she has found a will and testament for a William FRY of Bisley which was proved in 1725. While this cannot have been the same William FRY that I discuss above because of the dates, apparently the beneficiaries of this particular will suggest that he was William FRY’s father. I haven’t seen it yet as I’ve been unable to obtain a digital copy online, however, she tells me that it mentions he had a number of sons, one of whom was called William, and that this son had children, one of whom was named Richard. This therefore seems very likely to have been the Grandfather of William FRY. What is even more fascinating is that this will apparently shows that this William FRY owned a property in Cirencester, called The Bear and Swan, which is now The Swan. It seems that this could have been a Hotel, possibly this HOTEL in the Cotswolds! I have some further digging to do… but, given that Richard FRY went on to be a hotelier in Weston-super-Mare I think we may be on to something…

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